Jul 16, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam and partner Vito Cammisano (left) arrive at the 2014 ESPY Award show at Nokia Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Why Michael Sam won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYS

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Because people still ask the question “why did Michael Sam win the Arthur Ashe Courage award just for being gay?” If you asked that question, then you are quite literally the answer to your own query. Now that’s not something that happens everyday.
Michael Sam won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYS tonight. He totally deserved it.

Sam has been through a lot in the past few months, his NFL draft wasn’t easy. For weeks before the draft we had to hear from NFL insiders, all of who hid their identity and only spoke anonymously, that the NFL wasn’t ready for a gay player. Never mind the fact that if look at how many men are in the NFL you know there are already gay players in the league. Never mind that Michael Sam was a Missouri Tiger whose teammates said many of them knew about his sexuality. Missouri won the SEC East. THE SEC, NOT CONFERENCE USA. Never mind that players with past drug, alcohol, and legal issues went ahead of him. When you look at it with an unbiased eye it’s hard to not come to the conclusion that Michael Sam had it tougher because of his sexuality. You certainly can disagree, but I think the only basis for that is probably in you, not the facts.
The folks who don’t understand how Michael Sam has shown courage, those are the same folks that were so worried about his sexuality being a “locker room distraction.” You see they don’t want to come out and say “I have a problem with gay people.” No, they want to hide behind a polite version of bigotry. They are the folks who also start conversations with “I’m not racist but…”
These polite bigots are nothing new. In the 1950s they argued that “the army shouldn’t be integrated because it would disturb unit cohesiveness.” That sounds an awful lot like “you can’t have a gay player in the locker room because it will cause problems.”
It’s such a cowardly form a bigotry. I sent out the following tweet earlier tonight:

The vast majority of replies to this tweet were positive, and I was happy to see them. There were also a few super hateful and ugly tweets, which were gross. The hateful folks have at least taken a stand though, you know what kind of person they are right away. What really bothers me are the “I just don’t know why we are making a big deal out of this” people. Those are the bigots in sheep’s clothing.
Michael Sam is a great football player and I do hope he gets the credit he deserves for football. To say that he shouldn’t also get credit for doing it the hard way, rather than hiding, is ridiculous.
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Tags: Missouri Tigers NFL St. Louis Rams

  • Mark Taggart

    Some people will only see Michael Sam as a gay person who just happens to be a football player. Others (like myself) will see him as a football player whose sexuality is irrelevant. Ask yourselves: Which group do you belong to?
    Welcome to the NFL, Mike. I hope you have a long and successful career.

    • http://lightlybuzzed.com/ Bandit

      Thanks for your comment Mark. I see him as both a football player and a football player who had to overcome more than most to make it into the NFL and a football player who accepted a harder road and in doing so broke a barrier for others to follow. People can be more than one thing, I see no harm in celebrating all aspects of a person.

      • Tom McLeod

        Respectfully disagree.

      • Mark Taggart

        I respect your point of view, and I do admire Michael Sam for overcoming that barrier. I simply was hoping that we could all reach a point that such things were unnecessary. I recently saw the movie “42″ and once again admired Jackie Robinson for overcoming all the racism he experienced when he broke the race barrier in Major League Baseball. Nowadays, no reasonable person considers a player’s race. I hope we can one day forget about such personal things and just ask, “How good a player is he?” Personally, I hope he proves all the other 31 NFL teams made a mistake by passing him up in the previous rounds.

        • http://lightlybuzzed.com/ Bandit

          I agree Mark. Very good points. I pretty sure he’s going to make some folks regret it, I just wish it wasn’t Jeff Fisher who got him. FISSSSSSHHHHEERRRRRRR!

  • Steve67

    There were plenty of people far more deserving than Sam. This award is usually given to people involved in inspiring and uplifting stories that didn’t get national attention, not someone like Sam who was lauded as a hero all over the country. And asserting that someone is part of the reason he does deserve the award because they dare to question whether he did is too simplistic and narrow-minded. That I don’t believe he deserved the Arthur Ashe award does not make me homophobic, it just means that I don’t think giving it to someone who was lauded as a hero all throughout the national media is in keeping with the spirit of the award. Seriously, look at previous winners and tell me that Sam deserves it. Watch the year that the family of Ed Thomas, who’s town endured the destruction of a tornado and just as things started to rebound, suffered the tragic loss of family patriarch and local icon and hero Ed Thomas at the hands of one of his former players who struggled with bi-polar disorder. It was a story filled with redemption, grace, forgiveness, the bond of a community etc. It is far more compelling and inspiring than Michael Sam. That I believe that does not make me a homophobe, it just means I don’t see Sam as the hero that others like yourself do.